Volunteering for part time PM

Since I don’t have any technical experience and I want to become a PM, probably non-technical. I now have a full-time job in an office without a PM, but I’d like to work part-time outside the office to obtain PM experience. The best method to achieve this, in my opinion, is to volunteer. You could also get experience by just assisting a PM for a set period of time, probably online. Any advice for this?

14 Likes

An ideal product person should have industry expertise + technical + product toolkit + people skills. Since you want to go non-tech, you should focus on the other three.

Make sure to focus and position yourself in your existing industry. If you’re going for “non-tech” then you should at least have some industry expertise that makes your decisions/ insights valuable. Volunteering is good but IMO, most PMs won’t want to invest their time as it’s no ROI for them, and PM roles are already very exhaustive, which is why your industry background would help as that’s where you can give them value.

I recommend starting with Coursera’s PM courses for the product toolkit because Alex Cowan has created a really excellent specialization (U of Virginia) https://www.coursera.org/specializations/uva-darden-digital-product-management I would complete this task as well as many others as soon as possible so that you can demonstrate that you already understand the fundamentals and theoretical concepts and simply require practical coaching.

Just FYI, the PM function is highly difficult because it involves balancing people, technology, business planning, and hands-on implementation. Additionally, since it is a typical agile-servant role, egos are not permitted, which can be difficult for many beginners (people skills). To obtain a better understanding of this role, read these forum threads, shadow real PMs in the position, or speak with them.

14 Likes

@JeusRojas, Thank you for your reply! I always forget about Coursera – great advice!

13 Likes

I wonder whether there would be a clear-cut volunteer position for a PM posted someplace, just because PM roles don’t exist in a vacuum. However, you might search for a few volunteer consulting or group possibilities. Teams are often put together to focus on business problems in a set amount of time. Even though you won’t be a PM on the job, you will nonetheless do numerous PM-like duties. Do you reside in an urban area? They ought to have something comparable. I can offer you some particular names if you live in the Bay Area. I did this before I was a PM and mentioned it in my interviews. I’m not sure if this helped me land the job, but it certainly didn’t hurt.

13 Likes

@MarcoSilva, What are some organizations in the Bay Area you’d recommend?

12 Likes

Yes pls do recommend some names :slight_smile:

11 Likes

Hi! I’ve done two, but I’m sure there are many more that I’m not aware of. Ycore would be the first. Although entry is semi-competitive, men have an advantage in this regard (few men show interest in volunteer work and they want to keep it balanced if possible). But basically, it’s just for people under 30. The second, Full Circle Fund, appears to be simpler to invest in, at least to me. It ranges in age from 22-year-olds to elderly, making it quite age varied. Both seem to be growing now, but I’m not up on the most recent developments. They’re both excellent networking opportunities, in my opinion.

11 Likes

You could check out your local code for America brigade.

10 Likes

I fully agree with 2ChristieDook. Many volunteer code-based organisations have PM roles vacant that don’t require you to have previous product experience. However, keep in mind that you do need to be somewhat tech-literate and that you probably won’t start out in a PM position right away after joining.

Two organisations that are a part of the Code for America brigade come to mind:

9 Likes

Oh my, I had no idea about this organisation! Thanks @AmyWalker. What a great company!

8 Likes

Your question lacks sufficient context, so I’ll respond based on how I obtained experience prior to obtaining a PM position.

In a team that already had a product manager, I was a software engineer. I learned that the PM was already overloaded with meetings (if you are a PM, you will be in a lot of meetings! ), so I took charge of one of our project meetings. This is how it appeared:

  1. Introducing the agenda and the projects being worked on.
  2. Identify any obstructions and let the PM know about them so he may assist in removing them.
  3. Gather information to submit to the team, with the PM copied. This update often came every day.

I realise that this is essentially the task of a glorified PM assistant, but I was eager to learn everything I could. I was putting myself out there to study and gather as much experience as I could before there was an opening because the position is competitive.

Wishing you luck and I hope this helps!

8 Likes

I really appreciate your detailed response @karanTrivedi. It’s amusing because I actually carry out that sort of work in my current position, while not working in the tech sector. This is excellent advice that makes me aware of potential skills I may already have!

7 Likes

Check out this site. They have various projects you can join. They do ask you to commit at least 5 hours a week for 3 months.

6 Likes

Just signed up! Thank you for the suggestion!

6 Likes

Can you participate in PM projects at your current employer? If not, I know of a platform which highlights and encourages individuals moving jobs to promote personal projects, and I’d love you to feature your work when you’re ready/if you’re interested.

6 Likes

Yes, please share! I’m interested!

5 Likes

Their insta handle is @pivot.hq and you can check out their landing page here! You can check out and post when you’re ready to start showcasing projects & profiles.

6 Likes

Take charge of meetings and develop your internal network. If you are unable to “perform PM” activities, concentrate on building your internal network so that you can influence people without formal authority. If you can increase concentration and clarity at scale, you might get a shot at defining the product.

It appears that many people believe they have a chance of entering this building. When it comes to performance, this role usually has relatively clear-cut requirements. If you don’t produce enough outcomes in 30 days plus 90 days, you’re fired. Who ultimately has the ability to hack it is known to those who have been there for a while. Many people really aren’t made out for this kind of profession. (*This holds true regardless of the position or the item. It’s not a given that you can handle ML just because you can work in eCommerce. One of the apparent deal breakers is complaining about working overtime. A senior IC might be a lousy people manager. You’ll work 50 hours every week at the very least.

Win Early, Win Often, and Win Big.

5 Likes

Yea, I’m not sure why they believe that finding a job is the difficult part. Maintaining and expanding in the job is difficult. Can you consistently deliver and move the needle? Can innovation keep up with market demand?

Once you reach the senior ranks, PM seems to be the most competitive thing there is.

4 Likes

I appreciate the reality check about the role. Do you think there’s a lower level role that’s useful to prepare yourself to be a PM? I don’t think I’m ready to dive into a PM role and be successful in the first 30-90 days!

3 Likes